News

Business leader calls for 'golden rules' for gas industry

Coal seam gas drilling rig on the Western Downs.
Coal seam gas drilling rig on the Western Downs. Contributed

A TOOWOOMBA business leader has called for Queensland's coal seam gas industry to develop a set of "golden rules" similar to those established by the International Energy Agency.

The International Energy Agency has released its 20 golden rules for gas development.

The rules, which apply to gas developments across the world, place an emphasis on social and environmental protection.

Many have come from experiences in Colarado, which has a long established coal seam gas industry.

Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise CEO Shane Charles said there would benefits for the local coal seam gas industry to invest in a similar set of guiding principles.

"While too much regulation is not warranted, some guiding principles might be of assistance to see the public confidence restored through the demonstration of exemplary performance," he said.

"The coal seam gas industry in Colorado has been around for a lot longer than Australia's industry has, so there is a lot to learn from them."

Mr Charles said Australia was a significant producer of coal seam gas already.

"Having a set of guidelines that underline the importance of complete transparency, assessing and observing any environmental impacts and local community engagement is assured to benefit our industry locally," he said.

International Energy Agency executive director Maria van der Hoeven said technology and know-how already existed for unconventional gas to be produced in an environmentally acceptable way.

"But if the social and environmental impacts are not addressed properly, there is a very real possibility that public opposition to drilling for shale gas and other types of unconventional gas will halt the unconventional gas revolution in its tracks," she said.

"The industry must win; governments must ensure that appropriate policies and regulatory regimes are in place."

The Golden Rules (as determined by the International Energy Agency)

Measure, disclose and engage

  • Establish baselines for key environmental indicators, such as groundwater quality, prior to commencing activity, with continued monitoring during operations.
  • Measure and disclose operational data on water use, on the volumes and characteristics of waste water and on methane and other air emissions, alongside full, mandatory disclosure of fracturing fluid additives and volumes.
  • Minimise disruption during operations, taking a broad view of social and environmental responsibilities, and ensure that economic benefits are also felt by local communities.

Watch where you drill

  • Choose well sites so as to minimise impacts on the local community, heritage, existing land use, individual livelihoods and ecology.
  • Properly survey the geology of the area to make smart decisions about where to drill and where to hydraulically fracture: assess the risk that deep faults or other geological features could generate earthquakes or permit fluids to pass between geological strata.
  • Monitor to ensure that hydraulic fractures do not extend beyond the gas producing formations.

Isolate wells and prevent leaks

  • Put in place robust rules on well design, construction, cementing and integrity testing as part of a general performance standard that gas bearing formations must be completely isolated from other strata penetrated by the well, in particular freshwater aquifers.
  • Consider appropriate minimum-depth limitations on hydraulic fracturing to underpin public confidence that this operation takes place only well away from the water table.
  • Take action to prevent and contain surface spills and leaks from wells, and to ensure that any waste fluids and solids are disposed of properly.

Treat water responsibly

  • Reduce freshwater use by improving operational efficiency; reuse or recycle, wherever practicable, to reduce the burden on local water resources.
  • Store and dispose of produced and waste water safely.
  • Minimise use of chemical additives and promote the development and use of more environmentally benign alternatives.

Eliminate venting, minimise flaring and other emissions

  • Target zero venting and minimal flaring of natural gas during well completion and seek to reduce fugitive and vented greenhouse-gas emissions during the entire productive life of a well.

Ensure a consistently high level of environmental performance

  • Ensure that anticipated levels of unconventional gas output are matched by commensurate resources and political backing for robust regulatory regimes at the appropriate levels, sufficient permitting and compliance staff, and reliable public information.
  • Find an appropriate balance in policy-making between prescriptive regulation and performance-based regulation in order to guarantee high operational standards while also promoting innovation and technological improvement.
  • Ensure that emergency response plans are robust and match the scale of risk.
  • Pursue continuous improvement of regulations and operating practices.
  • Recognise the case for independent evaluation and verification of environmental performance.
  • Minimise air pollution from vehicles, drilling rig engines, pump engines and compressors.
  • Be ready to think big
  • Seek opportunities for realising the economies of scale and co-ordinated development of local infrastructure that can reduce environmental impacts.
  • Take into account the cumulative and regional effects of multiple drilling, production and delivery activities on the environment, notably on water use and disposal, land use, air quality, traffic and noise.

Topics:  coal seam gas, shane charles, toowoomba, toowoomba and surat basin enterprise


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Rubbish collections back on agenda

BULKY RUBBISH: A Ballina Shire mayoral candidate has raised the issue of kerbside collections for the region.

Kerbside collections of bulky rubbish on the agenda

Battle over North Coast lake road continues

BATTLE FOR ROAD: Lennox Head's Stop the Lake Road Closure committee spokesperson Pip Carter (back, left) with NSW Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres who has described the decision to close the road as odd.

Battle to keep road open is not over

Latest deals and offers

Police investigating Ballina incident

CAN you identify this man? Police would like to speak with him.

Rubbish collections back on agenda

BULKY RUBBISH: A Ballina Shire mayoral candidate has raised the issue of kerbside collections for the region.

Kerbside collections of bulky rubbish on the agenda

Battle over North Coast lake road continues

BATTLE FOR ROAD: Lennox Head's Stop the Lake Road Closure committee spokesperson Pip Carter (back, left) with NSW Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres who has described the decision to close the road as odd.

Battle to keep road open is not over

Local teen actor to star in cult horror

Nicholas Hamilton.

Nicholas Hamilton, 16, has cemented his Hollywood career

Where to see snow this week - it could be your last chance

The June snow at Guyra was measured at 5cm deep in some parts.

Looks like we'll get one more hit of frosty weather this winter

Patti Smith confirmed for Bluesfest 2017

CONFIRMED: US singer Patti Smith performing in Switzerland last year.

Find out who else in the first line up announcement

Johnny Depp 'deeply respects' Amber Heard

Celebrity

Amber Heard gives away $7 million settlement to charity

The true cost of 60 Minutes debacle revealed

It's a bill that would make even a silk tied barrister blush

Kirk Douglas is defiant, fierce and still standing

VETERAN ACTOR: Kirk Douglas has had a long and varied career.

Kirk Douglas has out-lived almost all his contemporaries

The Hard Word reviews Kyzer Soze

Kyzer Soze are playing Brisbane tomorrow at the Crowbar in Fortitude Valley. Photo Contributed

Kyzer Soze summon the evil for this mighty slab of death metal

Britney Spears 'almost drowned' in Hawaii

Britney Spears has revealed she 'almost drowned' while on holiday

Doco reveals real story behind Black Hawk Down

Former Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant shares his story, which helped to inspire the movie Black Hawk Down, in the TV series No Man Left Behind.

FORMER pilot recounts ordeal which inspired a Hollywood movie.

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m

Guess which Sunshine Coast suburb cracked the million dollar list?

This four-bedroom home at 26 McAnally Dr, Sunshine Beach was for sale for $7 million.

List of Australia's five most-expensive suburbs

Does it get any better than this? Check out this $2M home

LUXURY LIVING: The Coral Cove home built by Steve Coates Constructions that took out the best home over $2 million and the Wide Bay Burnett House of the Year at the Master Builders Wide Bay Burnett Housing and Construction Awards.

Wide Bay's best home is right on our doorstep